WASHINGTON, D.C. – In its closest game to date this season the No. 24 Gallaudet University women's basketball team found a will to win and overcome adversity on Sunday. The Bison held on to win a thrilling 51-48 game against visiting North Eastern Athletic Conference (NEAC) foe SUNYIT before 200 fans at the Field House.
The win gives Gallaudet (16-0, 13-0 NEAC) a new program record for consecutive victories with 16 breaking the old mark of 15 set by the 1998-99 squad. GU also sets a program record with 13 conference wins; the prior best mark was when the 1998-99 team posted a 12-2 record when they played in the eight-team Capital Athletic Conference. The Bison now play in the 12-team NEAC. GU is now 10-0 at home this season and has won 12 straight dating back to last season.
The program record for consecutive wins seemed in doubt with 5:49 left in regulation as the Bison trailed 45-40 as the Wildcats (9-6, 8-5) rode a wave of momentum to take their fourth lead of the game.
Gallaudet chipped away at the SUNYIT lead as junior guard Andrea Amati (Frederick, Md.) made her only 3-point attempt of the game and All-American senior forward/center Easter Faafiti (Pittsburg, Calif.) made a lay-up to tie the game at 45 with four minutes to play. The tie was the 11th of the game. Faafiti scored her ninth and final basket of the game at the 2:53 mark to give the Bison a 49-46 lead. SUNYIT guard Lyndsey Brognano (17 points) scored 30 seconds later to pull the Wildcats within a point, 49-48.
Both teams went cold from there as neither could make a basket from the field or free-throw line as they both committed turnovers and fouls. SUNYIT guard Caitlin Cottell went to the charity stripe with two seconds left in the game, down a point, but missed both free-throw attempts. GU senior center Nukeitra Hayes (Anderson, Ind.) went to the foul line with less than a second on the clock and made both shots to give the Bison the three-point victory.
In the first half, the teams traded the lead four times and tied the game on eight different occasions. The Bison received a scare with seven minutes before halftime up 19-17 when Faafiti was sent off the court with an undisclosed injury and didn't return until the second half. The Bison weathered the storm without their All-American and took a 25-23 lead into halftime.
Faafiti finished the game with her ninth consecutive double-double, 11th overall this season, with a game-high 22 points, 10 rebounds, seven steals and four assists. Hayes was the other Bison to reach double-double status with 10 points and 14 rebounds to go with four steals and four assists. This was Hayes' sixth double-double of the season. Freshman guard Stephanie Weiss (Wellington, Fla.) finished with 10 points, three boards, two assists and two steals in the win.
SUNYIT's outside shooting kept the Wildcats in the game as they made 5-of-17 attempts from 3-point land. They made four 3-pointers in the second half alone. Gallaudet held a 34-20 advantage in the paint while the Wildcats outrebounded the Bison by three, 40-37. GU made 11-of-18 free throw attempts (61.1 percent) while SUNYIT missed six of its nine attempts (33.3 percent). The Wildcats held the Bison to their lowest point total of the season, nearly 19 points under its scoring average of 70.8 points per game.
GU is off until next weekend when it will hit the road for two conference games against Cazenovia College on Saturday, January 29, followed by a contest at Morrisville State College on Sunday, January 30. Both games are slated to tip at noon.